Whenever I felt like the whole world was against me, one of my dearest friends would tell me to learn how to be my own best friend. She made it sound like so easy but for a while, I wondered what it really meant to be your own best friend- until I went to New Zealand and suddenly enjoyed being in my own company. Then I met a beautiful friend who inspired me to find happiness in doing things alone. Since then, I learned how to rely more on myself emotionally and then I started to develop a more positive relationship with my self. This is the reason why this year, I started a new tradition that is to celebrate my birthday quietly and decided to date myself instead, with the special participation of J (because he is quite competitive that way). He also wanted to do something special for me and who am I to refuse, right?
So, what did I do exactly that made my anticipated 41st birthday a beautiful experience? Well....
1. I took a few days off
- Since I came to the UK, I made it a rule to be off on my birthday, and I've been quite fortunate to have been able to do this for the last 16 years. I believe I deserve a rest day on my birthday, don't you?
2. I had a relaxing a massage
- Recently, I have been experiencing some shoulder pains and I blame it on the big shoulder bag that I carry to work everyday. Since I haven't had a proper back massage in the last two years (and it's my birthday anyway), I booked myself a full body Thai massage at our neighbour's. Although it wasn't quite the massage environment that was advertised, it was nevertheless a very relaxing experience. And for just £30, I suppose I got what I paid for.
3. I challenged myself
- I have been running regularly but I haven't actually ran farther than 9km since April, so I wanted to run 10k at least one more time before I bid goodbye to 40. True enough, I challenged myself and ran 11km on Saturday.
4. I supported random people in the best way I can
- I didn't realise that last Sunday was the Virgin London 10k. So after my morning run, I joined a group of young volunteers to cheer on the runners. It's always a good feeling to know that you have supported other people. Somehow this was my (other) way of giving back.
5. I went on a date
- He maybe is a quiet person, but J is really one of the sweetest people I know. Two days before my birthday, he took me to the "world's most romantic restaurant" for lunch. And the best surprise of all was the birthday candle. This, in all honesty, made me appreciate J even more.
6. I revived a tradition and bought myself a gift
- A complimentary hand and arm massage from Jo Malone has been a part of my birthday celebration in the last few years, but I missed out on it last year because I was in New Zealand. Nothing has changed except the fact that I went on my own this time. It was indeed a revealing experience. I promised myself to only share this experience again with the right people. Until then, I'd be happy to continue the tradition by myself. And with that thought, I bought myself a bottle of one of my favourite summer scents- Blackberry & Bay.
7. I did something I absolutely love all by myself
- And in the comfort of my home- thanks to Brigit's Bakery for making it possible for me to experience an afternoon tea for one without too much fuss.
8. I celebrated my birthday in one of the best restaurants in London with J
- Absolutely the best birthday meal ever! Personally, everything about L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon was perfect. I loved the open kitchen dining as I was able to watch the chefs while they prepared the food. The ambience was exactly as I wanted it to be on my birthday- relaxing and friendly. The service was excellent- everything was served with a smile. It was really an amazing food experience.
9. I absolutely did nothing
- After our incomparable lunch at Joel Robuchon, I decided to do nothing but watch The Championships. I lounged on the couch (with a bowl of popcorn on my lap) and watched Konta win the women's quarter finals. It felt good to be able to do just that.
10. I didn't have any more expectations
- I've always been that girl who loves attention only because I grew up surrounded by people who always made me feel so loved and secured. Growing up, my parents (although we didn't have much money) always ensured that I had a party at home with my friends. I can't recall having a birthday cake though, but I remember I've always had my favourite "dodol"- a rice pudding that was constantly stirred in a big wok using a bamboo stick until it was thick and sticky.
I very much enjoyed being the centre of attention then and I still do unto this day, only in a very different way. This time, I actually enjoyed the attention that I gave to myself more than the attention that I received from other people because I had no expectations. That being said, I honestly appreciate from the bottom of my heart, all the love and kindness that people have shown me on my birthday.
I am very thankful for the constant people in my life who continue to remind me of who and what I really am. These are the people who have made my birthday extra special for the last few years (especially the last three).
Not to mention of course, my social media friends who always take time to send me thoughtful birthday messages.
I am beyond grateful.